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Full text of "The duty of giving an immediate diligence to the business of the Christian life;"

THE DUTY OF GIVING AN IMMEDIATE DILIGENCE TO THE 
BUSINESS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE . 



BEING, AN 



ADDRESS 



TO THE 



INHABITANTS 



- OF THE 



BY THE 

REV. THOMAS CHALMERS, 

One of the Ministers of Glassrcrw, 



OP CO/ 



U. S. A, 



'NEW-YORK: 
PUBLISHED BY KIRK AND MERCEIX. 

1817. 




/ 



V 



TO THE 

INHABITANTS 

OF THE 

PARISH OE KILMANY. 

WHEN one writes a letter to an intimate and a 
much-loved friend, he never thinks of the graces 
of the composition. He unbosoms himself in a 
style of perfect freeness and simplicity. He gives 
way to the kindly affections of his heart, and though 
there may be many touches of tenderness in his 
performance, it is not because he aims at touches 
of any kind, but because all the tenderness that is 
written, is the genuine and the artless transcript of 
all the tenderness that is felt. Now conceive for a 
moment, that he wrote his letter under the con- 
sciousness that it was to be broadly exhibited be- 
fore the eye of the public, this would immediately 
operate as a heavy restraint upon him. A man 
would much rather pour the expression of his 
friendship into the private ear of him who was the 
object of it, than he would do it under the full stare 
of a numerous company. And I, my brethren, could 
my time have allowed it, would much rather have 
written my earnest and longing aspiration for the 
welfare of you all by a private letter to each indi- 
vidual, than by this general Address, which neces- 



72 



gorily exposes to the wide theatre of the public all 
that I feel, and all that I utter on the subject of my 
affectionate regard for you. 

It were better then for the exercise to which I 
have now set myself, that I shut out all idea of the 
public ; and never, within the whole recollection 
of my life, was I less disposed to foster that idea. 
It may be observed, that the blow of some great and 
calamitous visitation brings a kind of insensibility 
along with it. I ought not to lament my withdraw- 
ment from you as a calamity, but it has had all the 
effect of a calamity upon me. I am removed from 
those objects which habitually interested my heart, 
and, for a time, it refuses to be interested in other 
objects. I am placed at a distance from that scene 
to which I was most alive, and I feel a deadness to 
every other scene. The people who are now around 
me, carry an unquestionable kindness in their bo- 
soms, and vie with one another in the expression 
of- it. I can easily perceive that there exists abun- 
dantly among them all the constituents of a highly 
interesting neighbourhood, and it may look cold 
and ungrateful in me that I am not interested. But 
it takes a time before the heart can attune itself to 
the varieties of a new situation. It is ever recur- 
ring to the more familiar scenes of other days. The 
present ministers no enjoyment, and in looking to 
the past the painful circumstance is, that while the 
fancy will not be kept from straying to that neigh- 
bourhood which exercises over it all the power of 
a much-loved home, the idea that it is home no 



73 

longer comes with dread reality Upon the mind, 
and turns the whole to bitterness. 

With a heart thus occupied, I do not feel that 
the admission of the public into our conference 
Will be any great restraint upon me. I shall speak 
to you as if they were not present, and I do not con- 
ceive that they can take a great interest in what I 
say, because I have no time for the full and expli- 
cit statement of principles. I have this advantage 
with you that I do not have with others, that with 
you I can afford to be less explicit. I presume upon 
your recollections of what I have, for some time, 
been in the habit of addressing to you, and flatter 
myself that you may enter into a train of observa- 
tion which to others may appear dark, and abrupt, 
and unconnected. In penning this short Address, 
I follow the impulse of my regard for you. You will 
receive it with indulgence, as a memorial from one 
who loves you ; who is ever with you in heart, 
though not in person ; who classes among the dear- 
est of his recollections, the tranquil enjoyments he 
has had in your neighbourhood ; who carries upon 
his memory the faithful image of its fields and of 
its families ; and whose prayer for you all is, that 
you may so grow in the fruits of our common faith, 
as to be made meet for that unfading inheritance^ 
where sorrow and separation are alike unknown. 

Were I to sit down for the purpose of drawing 
out a list of all the actions which may be called 
sinful, it would be long before I could complete 
the enumeration. Nay, I can conceive., that by 

10 



74 



adding one peculiarity after another, the variety 
may be so lengthened out as to make the attempt 
impossible. Lying, and stealing, and breaking the 
Sabbath, and speaking evil one of another, these 
are all so many sinful actions; but circumstances 
may be conceived which make one kind of lying 
different from another, and one kind of theft differ- 
ent from another, and one kind of evil speaking dif- 
ferent from another, and in this way the number of 
sinful actions may be greatly swelled out ; and 
should we attempt to take the amount, they may 
be like the host which no man could number, and 
every sinner realizing one of these varieties, may 
wear his own peculiar complexion, and have a 
something about him which marks him out, and 
signalizes him from all the other sinners by whom 
he is surrounded. 

Yet, amid all this variety of visible aspect, there 
is one summary expression to which all sin may be 
reduced. There is one principle which, if it al- 
ways existed in the heart, and were always acted 
upon in the life, would entirely destroy the ex- 
istence of sin, and the very essence of sin lies in 
the want of this one principle. Sin is a want of 
conformity to the will of God ; and were a desire 
to do the will of God at all times the overruling 
principle of the heart and conduct, there would be 
no sin. It is this want of homage to him and to his 
authority, which give's to sin its essential character. 
The evil things coming out of the heart, which is 
the residence of this evil principle, may be exceed- 



75 



ingly various, and may impart a very different com- 
plexion to different individuals. This complexion 
may be more or less displeasing to the outward 
eye. The evil speaker may look to us more hate- 
ful than the voluptuary, the man of cruelty than 
the man of profaneness, the breaker of his word 
than the breaker of the Sabbath. I believe it will 
generally be found, that the sin which inflicts the 
more visible and immediate harm upon men, is, in 
the eye of men the more hateful sin. There is a, 
readiness to execrate falsehood, and calumny, and 
oppression ; and along with this readiness there is 
an indulgence for the good-humoured failings of 
him who is the slave of luxury, and makes a god 
of his pleasure, and spends his days in all the 
thoughtlessness of one who walks in the counsel of 
his own heart, and in the sight of his own eyes, 
provided that his love of society leads him to share 
with others the enjoyment of all these gralifications 3 
and his wealth enables him, and his moral honesty 
inclines him, to defray the expense of them. 

Behold, then, one frequent source of delusion. 
He whose sins are less hateful to the w r orld than 
those of others, wraps up himself in a kind of secu- 
rity. I wrong no man. I have a heart that can 
be moved by the impulses of compassion. 1 carry 
in my bosom a lively sentiment of indignation at 
the tale of perfidy or violence ; and surely I may 
feel a satisfaction which others have no title to feel, 
who are guilty of that from which my nature recoils 
with a generous abhorrence. He forgets ail the 



76 



while, that sin, in its essential character, may have 
as full and firm a possession of his heart, as of the 
man's with whom he is comparing himself; that 
there may be an entire disownal and forgetfulness 
of God ; that not one particle of reverence, or of 
acknowledgment, may be given to the Being with 
whom he has to do ; that whatever he may be in 
the eye of his neighbour, in the eye of him who 
seeth not as man seeth, he is guilty ; that, walking 
just as he would have done though there had been 
no divine government whatever, he is a rebel to 
that government ; and that amid all the compla- 
cency of his own feelings, and all the applause and 
good liking of his acquaintances, he wears all the 
deformity of rebelliousness in the eye of every spi- 
ritual being, who looks at the state of his heart, and 
passes judgment upon him by those very princi- 
ples which are to try him at that great day when 
the secrets of all hearts shall be laid open. 

If this were kept in view, it would lead to a more 
enlightened estimate of the character of man, than * 
man in the thoughtlessness and unconcern of his 
natural state ever forms, it would lead us to see, 
that under all the hues and varieties of character, 
diversified as they are by constitutional taste, and 
the power of circumstances, there lurks one deep 
and universal disease, and that is the disease of a 
mind labouring under alienation from God, and with- 
out any practical sense of what is due to him. You 
will all admit it to be true, that the heart of a man 
may be under the full operation of this deadly poi- 



77 



son, while the man himself has a constitutional 
taste for the pleasures of social intercourse. You 
see nothing unlikely or impossible in this combi- 
nation. Now I want you to go along with me. when 
I carry my assertion still further; and sure I am that 
experience bears me out when 1 say, that the heart 
of a man may be under the full operation of a dis- 
like or indifference to God, while the man himself 
has a constitutional abhorrence at cruelty, a con- 
stitutional repugnance to fraud, a constitutional an- 
tipathy to what is uncourteousin manners, or harsh 
and unfeeling in conversation, a constitutional gen- 
tleness of character; or, to sum up the whole in 
one clause, a man may be free from many things 
which give him a moral hatefulness in the eye of 
others, and he may have many things which throw 
a moral loveliness around him, and the soul be un- 
der the entire dominion of that carelessness about 
God, which gives to sin its essential character. And 
upon him, even upon him, graceful and engaging 
as he may be by the lustre - of his many accom- 
plishments, the saying of the Bible does not fail of 
being realized, that " the heart of man is deceit- 
ful above all things, and desperately wicked ; who 
can know r it ?" 

And thus it is, that our great and ultimate aim in 
the reformation of a sinner, is the reformation of 
his heart. There may be many reformations short 
of this, and in which many are disposed to rest with 
deceitful complacency. I can conceive, that the 
man who formerly stole may steal no more, not be- 



78 



cause he is now sanctified, and feels the obligation 
of religious principle, but because he is now trans- 
lated into better circumstances, and, by the pow- 
er of example, has contracted that tone of honour- 
able feeling which exists among the upper classes 
of society. Here, then, is a reformation of the con- 
duct, while the heart, in respect of that which con- 
stitutes its exceeding sinfulness, is no better than 
before. The old leaven of ungodliness may over- 
spread its every desire, and its every affection; and 
while the outer man has been washed of one of its, 
visible deformities, the inner man may still persist 
in its unmindfulness of God ; and the pollution of 
this greatest and vilest of all moral turpitude, may 
adhere to it as obstinately as ever. 

Now it appears to me, that these views, true in 
themselves, and deserving to be carried along with 
us through every inch of our religious progress, 
have often been practically misapplied. I can con- 
ceive an inquirer under the influence of these vie ws, 
to fall into such a process of reflection as the fol- 
lowing : ' If the outer conduct be of no estimation 
in the sight of God, unless it stand connected with 
the actings of a holy principle in the heart, let us 
begin with the heart, and from the establishment 
of a holy principle there, purity of conduct will 
follow as an effect of course. Let us beware of lay- 
ing an early stress upon the doings of the outer 
man, lest we and others should have our eye turned 
from the reformation of the inner man, as the main 
and almost the exclusive object of a Christian's 



79 



ambition. Let us be fearful how we urge such and 
such visible reformations, either upon ourselves or 
those around us, lest they be made to stand in the 
place of that grand renewing process, by which 
the soul, dead in trespasses and sins, is made alive 
unto God. Let us labour to impress the necessity 
of this process, and seeing the utter inability of man 
to change his own heart, let us turn his eye from 
any exertions of his own, to that fulness which is 
in Christ Jesus, through whom alone he can obtain 
the forgiveness of all his sins, and such a measure 
of power resting upon him, as carries along with it 
all the purifying influences of a spiritual reforma- 
tion. In the mean time, let us take care how we 
speak about good works. Let the very mention of 
them put us into the defensive attitude of coldness 
and suspicion ; and instead of giving our earnest- 
ness or our energy to them, let us press upon our- 
selves and others the exercises of that faith, by 
which alone we are made the workmanship of God 3 
and created unto such good works as he hath or- 
dained that we should walk in them.' 

Now there is a great deal of truth throughout 
the whole of this train of sentiment ; but truth con- 
templated under such an aspect, and turned to such 
a purpose, as has the effect of putting an inquirer 
into a practical attitude, which appears to me to 
be unscriptural and wrong. 1 would not have him 
keep his hand for a single moment from the doing 
of that which is obviously right. I would not have 
him to refrain from grappling immediately with 



80 



every one sin which is within the reach of his ex- 
ertions. I would not have him to incur the delay 
of one instant in ceasing to do that which is evil ; 
and I conceive that it is not till this is begun to, 
that he will learn to do that which is well. It ought 
not to restrain the energy of his immediate doing, 
that he is told how doings are of no account, unless 
they are the doings of one who has gone through a 
previous regeneration. This ought not to keep 
him from doing. It should only lead him to com- 
bine with the prescribed doing, an earnest aspiring 
after a cleaner heart, and a better spirit than he yet 
finds himself to have. It is very true, that a man 
may do an outwardly good thing, and rest in what 
he has done. But it is as true, that a man may do 
the outwardly good thing he is bidden do, and, in- 
stead of resting, may look forward with diligent 
striving, and earnest humble prayer, to some great- 
er things than this. Now this last, my brethren, is 
the attitude I want to put you into. Let the thief 
give up his stealing at this moment. Let the drunk- 
ard give up his intemperance. Let the evil speak- 
er give up his calumnies. Let the doer of all that is 
obviously wrong, break off his sins, and turn him 
to the doing of all that is obviously right. Let no 
one thing, not even the speculations of orthodoxy,* 

* Sorry should I be, if a term expressive of right notions on the* 
most interesting of all subjects, were used by me with a levity at 
all calculated to beget an indifference to the soundness of your 
religious opinions, or to divert your most earnest attention from 
those inquiries, which have for their object the true will, and the 
true way of God for the salvation of men. 



81 



be suffered to stand a barrier against your entrance 
into the field of immediate exertion. I raise the 
very first blow of my trumpet against the visible 
iniquities which I see to be in you, and if there be 
any one obviously right thing you have hitherto 
neglected, I will not consume one particle of time 
before I call upon you tc do it. 

It is quite in vain to say that all this is not called 
for, or that I am now spending my strength and 
your time in combating an error which has no prac- 
tical existence. You must be quite familiarized 
with the melancholy spectacle of a zealous pro- 
fessor mourning over the sinfulness of his heart, 
and at the same time putting forth his hand, with- 
out one sigh of remorse, to what is sinful inordinary 
conduct. Have you never witnessed one, who 
could speak evil of his neighbour, and was at the 
same time trenched among what he thought the 
speculations of orthodoxy, and made the utter cor- 
ruption of the soul of man one of these specula- 
tions? Is it not enough to say that he is a mere 
speculative Christian ; for the very same thing 
may be detected in the practice of one who feels a 
real longing to be delivered from the power of 
that sin, which he grieves has such an entire do- 
minion over him. And yet, strange to tell> there 
is many an obvious and every-day sin, which is not 
watched against, which is not struggled against, 
and the commission of which gives no uneasiness 
whatever. The man is as it were so much occu- 
pied with the sinfulness of his heart, that he neither 

11 



82 



feels nor attends to the sinfulness of his conduct- 
He wants to go methodically to work. He wants 
to begin at the beginning, and he forms his esti- 
mate of what the beginning is upon the arrange- 
ments of human speculations. It sounds very 
plausibly, that as out of the heart are the issues of 
life, the work of an inquiring Christian must be- 
gin there ; but the mischief I complain of is, that 
in the first prosecution of this work, months or 
years may be consumed ere the purified fountain 
send forth its streams, or the repentance he is as- 
piring after tell on the plain and palpable doings 
of his ordinary conduct. Hence, my brethren, the 
mortifying exhibition of great zeal, and much talk, 
and diligent canvassing and conversing about the 
abstract principles of the Christian faith, combined 
with what is visible in the Christian practice, be- 
ing at a dead stand, and not one inch of sensible 
progress being made in any one thing w hich the 
eye can witness, or the hand can lay a tangible 
hold upon. The man is otherwise employed. He 
is busy with the first principles of the subject. He 
still goes on with his wonted peevishness within 
doors, and his wonted dishonesties without doors. 
He has not yet come to these matters. He is taken 
up with laying and labouring at the foundation. 
The heart is the great subject of his anxiety ; and in 
the busy exercise of mourning and confessing, 
and praying, and studying the right management 
of his heart, he may take up months or years before 
be come to the deformities of his outward and or- 



B3 

tlinary conduct. I will venture to go farther, mv 
brethren, and assert, that if this be the track he is 
on, it will be a great chance if he ever come to 
them at all. To the end of his days he may be a 
talking, and inquiring, , and speculating, and I 
doubt not, along with all this, a church-going and 
ordinance-loving Christian. But I am much afraid 
that he is, practically speaking, not in the way to 
the solid attainments of a Christian, Avhose light 
shines before men. All that meets the eye of daily 
observers may have undergone no change what- 
ever, and the life of the poor man may be nothing 
better than the dream of a delusive and bewilder- 
ing speculation. 

Now, it is very true that, agreeably to the re* 
marks with which I prefaced this argument, the 
great and ultimate aim of all reformation is to re- 
form the heart, and to bring it into such a state of 
principle and desire, that God may be glorified in 
soul and spirit as well as in body. This is the point 
that is ever to be sought after, and ever to be 
pressed forward to. Under a sense of his deficien- 
cies from this point, a true Christian will read dili- 
gently that he may learn the gospel method of 
arriving at it. He will pray diligently that the clean 
heart may be created, and the right spirit may be 
renewed within him. The earnestness of his at- 
tention to this matter will shut him up more and 
more into the faith of that perfect sacrifice, which 
his short-comings from a holy and heart-searching 
law will ever remind him of, as the firm and the 



84 



only ground of his acceptance with God. The 
same honest reliance on the divine testimony, 
which leads him to close with the doctrine of the 
atonement, and to rejoice in it, will also lead him 
to close with the doctrine of sanctification, and dili- 
gently to aspire after it. Now, in the business of 
so aspiring after this object, it is not enough that 
he read diligently in the Word; it is not enough 
that he pray diligently for the Spirit. These are 
two ingredients in the business of seeking after his 
object, but they are not the only ones ; and what I 
lament is, that a fear about the entireness of his 
orthodoxy leads many a zealous inquirer to look 
coldly and askance at another ingredient in this 
business. He should not only read diligently and 
pray diligently, but he should do diligently every 
one right thing that is within his reach, and that 
he finds himself to have strength for. Any one 
author who talks of the insignificance of doings ? 
in such away as practically to restrain an inquirer 
from vigorously and immediately entering upon the 
performance of them, misleads that inquirer from 
the scriptural method, by which we are directed to 
a greater measure of light and of holiness than we 
are yet in possession of. He detaches one essential 
ingredient from the business of seeking. He may 
set the spirit of his reader a roaming over some 
field of airy speculation ; but he works no such 
salutary effect upon his spirit, as evinces itself by 
any one visible or substantial reformation. I have 
often and often attempted to press this lesson upon 



85 



you, my brethren ; and I bear you testimony, that, 
while a resistance to practical preaching has been 
imputed to the zealous professors of orthodoxy, 
you listened with patience, and I trust not without 
fruit, when addressing you as if you had just be- 
gun to stir yourselves in the matter of your salva- 
tion. I ranked it among my preliminary instruc- 
tions, that you should cease from the evil of your 
doings ; that you should give up all that you 
know to be wrong in your ordinary conduct; that 
the thief should restrain himself from stealing, the 
liar from falsehood, the evil speaker from back- 
biting, the slothful labourer in the field from eye- 
service, the faithless house maid in the family from 
all purloining and all idleness. 

The subterfuges of hypocrisy are endless ; and 
if it can find one in a system of theology, it will 
be as glad of it from that quarter as from any 
other. Some there are who deafen the impression 
of all these direct and immediate admonitions, by 
saying that before all these doings are insisted on, 
we must lay well and labour well at the founda- 
tion of faith in Christ, without whom we can do 
nothing. The truth, that without Christ we can do 
nothing, is unquestionable ; but it would take ma- 
ny a paragraph to expose its want of application 
to the use that is thus made of it. But to cut short 
this plea of indolence for delaying the painful 
work of surrendering all that is vicious in conduct ; 
let me put it to your common sense whether a thief 
would not, and could not give up stealing for a 



86 



week, if he had the reward of a fortune waiting him 
at the end of it; whether, upon the same reward* 
an evil speaker could not, for the same time, im- 
pose a restraint upon his lips, and the slothful ser- 
vant become a most pains-taking and diligent work- 
er, and the liar maintain an undeviating truth 
throughout all his conversations. Each of these 
would find himself to have strength for these things, 
were the inducement of a certain temporal reward 
held out, or the dread of a certain temporal punish- 
ment were made to hang over him. Now, for the 
temporal punishment,! substitute the call of, "Flee 
from the coming wrath." Let this call have the 
effect it should have, and the effect it actually does 
have, on many who are not warped by a mislead- 
ing speculation, and it will make them stir up such 
strength as they possess, and give up, in deed, much 
of their actual misconduct. This effect it had in 
the days of John the Baptist. People on his call, 
gave np their violence and their extortions, and 
the evil of many of their doings, and were thus 
put into what God in his wisdom counted a fit state 
of preparation for the Saviour. If there was any 
thing in the revelation of the Gospel calculated to 
supersede this call of, " Cease you from the evil of 
your doings," then I could understand the indiffer- 
ence, or the positive hostility, of zealous pretend- 
ers to the work of addressing practical exhortation 
to inquirers at the very outset of their progress. But 
so far from being superseded by any thing that the 
Gospel lays before us, the Author and the first 



87 



preachers of the Gospel just took np the lesson of 
John, and at the very commencement of their mi- 
nistry did they urge it upon people to turn them 
from the evil of their doings. Repent and believe 
the Gospel, says our Saviour. Repent and turn 
unto God, and do works meet for repentance, says 
the Apostle Paul. And there must be something 
wrong, my brethren, if you resist me urging it upon 
you, to give up at this moment, even though it 
should be the first moment of your concern about 
salvation, to give up all that is obviously wrong : 
to turn you to all that is obviously right ; to grapple 
with every sin you can lay your hand upon; and if 
it be true, in point of experience and common sense 3 
that many a misdeed may be put away from you 
on the allurement of some temporal reward; then 
if you have faith in the reality of eternal things* 
the hope of an escape from the coming wrath may 
and will tell immediately upon you, and we shall 
see among you a stir, and a diligence, and a doing, 
and a visible reformation. 

It is a great matter to chase away all mysticism 
from the path by which a sinner is led unto God; 
and it is to be lamented that many a speculation of 
many a respected divine, has the effect of throw ing 
a darkening cloud of perplexity over the very en- 
trance of this path. I tell you a very plain thing, 
and, if it be true, it is surely of importance that you 
should know it, when I tell you, that if you are a 
servant, and are visited with a desire after salva- 
tion, then a faithful performance of your daily task 



38 



is a step without which the object you aim at is un- 
attainable. If you are a son, a more punctual ful- 
filment of your parent's bidding is another step. If 
you are a neighbour, a more civil and obliging de- 
portment to those around you is another step. If 
you are a dealer, the adoption of a just weight and 
a just measure is another step. There are some 
who, afraid of your attempting to get acceptance 
with God by the merit of your own doings, would 
not venture to urge all this at the outset, lest they 
should lead you to rest on a delusive ground of 
confidence. They would try to get a perfect and 
a clear understanding of the right ground of accept- 
ance established, previous to the use of any such 
urgency ; and then, upon this principle being well 
laid within you, they might take the liberty of tell- 
ing you your duty. Their fearfulness upon this 
point forms a very striking contrast to the free, and 
unembarrassed, and energetic manner, in which 
the Bibie, both of the Old and New Testament, 
calls on every man who comes within the reach of 
a hearing, to cease from all sin, and turn him to all 
righteousness. In following its example, let us be 
fearless of all consequences. It may not suit the ar- 
tificial processes of some of our systems, nor fall in 
with the order of their well-weighed and carefully 
arranged articles, to tell at the very outset of those 
obvious reformations which I am now pressing 
upon you. But sure 1 am that an apostle would 
have felt no difficulty on the gubject; nor whatever 
the visible sin which deformed you, or whatever the 



89 



visible act of obedience in which you were de- 
ficient, would he have been restrained from giving 
his immediate energy to the work of calling on you 
to abstain from the one and to do the other. 

The disciples of John could not have such a 
clear view of the ground of acceptance before God 3 
as an enlightened disciple of the apostles. Yet the 
want of this clear view did not prevent them from 
being right subjects for John's preparatory instruc- 
tions. And what were these instructions ? Soldiers 
were called on to give up their violence, and pub- 
licans their exactions, and rich men the confine- 
ment of their own wealth to their own gratification ; 
and will any man hesitate for a moment to decide, 
whether those who turned away from the directions 
of the forerunner, or those who followed them, were 
in the likeliest state for receiving light and improve- 
ment from the subsequent teaching of the Saviour? 

But there is one difference between them and 
us. The whole of Christ's teaching, as put down 
in the word of God, is already before us. Now what 
precise effect should this have upon the nature of 
an initiatory address to sinners ? The right answer 
to this question will confirm, or it will demolish 
the whole of our preceding argument. The alone 
ground of acceptance, is the righteousness of Christ 
imputed to all who believe. This truth deserves 
to be taken up, and urged immediately in the hear- 
ing of all who are within the reach of the preach- 
er's voice. Till this truth be received, there should 
be no rest to the sinner, there is no reconciliation 

12 



90 



with God, nor will he attain that consummation of" 
holiness, without which there can be no meetness 
for the enjoyment of heaven. But some are rea- 
dier to receive this truth than others. The reform- 
ing publicans and harlots of John were in a state of 
greater readiness to receive this truth, than either 
the Pharisees, or those publicans and harlots who, 
unmindful of John, still persisted in their iniquities. 
And who will be in greater readiness to receive this 
truth in the present day ? Will it be the obstinate 
and determinate doers of all 1 that is sinful, and that 
too in the face of a call, that they should do works 
meet for repentance ? Or will it be those who, un- 
der the influence of this call, do what the disciples 
of John did before them, turn them from the evil 
of their manifest iniquities, and so give proof of 
their earnestness in the way of salvation ? It is 
true that, along with such a call, we might now 
urge a truth which even John could not. But are 
we to suspend the call of doing works meet for re- 
pentance, till this truth be urged and established m 
the mind of the hearer ? Surely if God thought k 
wise to ply sinners with a call to turn them from 
the evil of their ways, before he fully revealed 
to them the evangelical ground of their accep- 
tance, we may count it scriptural and safe to ply 
them with this call at the same time, that we state 
to them the evangelical ground of their acceptance, 
It is true, that the statement may not be compre- 
hended all at once. It may be years before it is 
listened to by the careless, before it is rested $k 



by (he desponding, before the comfort of it i3 at all 
felt or appropriated by the doubting and melan- 
choly inquirer. Now what I contend for is, that 
during this interval of time, these people may and 
ought to be urged with the call of departing from 
their iniquities. This very call was brought to bear 
on the disciples of John, before the ground of their 
acceptance was fully made known to them; audit 
might be brought to bear on sinners now, even 
though it should be before the ground of their ac- 
ceptance be fully understood by them. The effect 
of this preparatory instruction in these days, was to 
fit John's disciples for the subsequent revelation of 
Christ and his apostles. It is true, that we are in 
possession of that doctrine which they only had 
the prospect of. But it accords with experience, 
that this doctrine might be addressed without ef- 
fect for years to men inquiring after salvation. The 
doctrine of justification by the righteousness of 
Christ, might be announced in all its force ? and in 
all its simplicity, to men who hold out against it ; 
and you would surely say of them, that the way of 
the Lord had not been prepared to their minds, nor 
his paths made straight. Now we read of such a 
preparation set a going in behalf of men, to whom 
this doctrine had not yet been revealed. Will this 
preparation be altogether ineffectual in behalf of 
men by whom this doctrine is not yet understood ? 
Surely it is quite evident, that in the days of John, 
men who, in obedience to his call, were struggling 
with their sins 3 were in a likelier way for receiving 



those larger measures of truth, which were after- 
ward revealed, than they who, in the face of that 
call, were obstinately and presumptuously retaining 
them. Suffer us to avail ourselves of the same ad- 
vantage now. You, my brethren, who, in obedi- 
ence to the calls that have been sounded in your 
hearing, are struggling with your sins, are in a like- 
lier way for receiving those larger measures of truth 
which are now revealed, than those of you who feel 
no earnestness, and are making no endeavours upon 
the subject. While, therefore, I announce to you, 
in the most distinct terms, that you will not be 
saved unless you are found in the righteousness of 
Christ, this will not restrain me at the very same 
time from doing what John did. You know how 
his disciples were prepared for the baptism of the 
Holy Ghost, who guides unto all truth ; and while 
I do not think that any one point of time is too early 
for offering Christ to you, in all the benefits of his 
sacrifice, in all the imputed merits of his perfect 
righteousness, in all the privileges which he has 
proclaimed and purchased for believers ; all I con- 
tend for is, that neither is there any point of time 
too early for letting you know, that all sin must be 
abandoned, for calling on you to enter into the work 
of struggling with all sin immediately, for warning 
you, that while you persist in those sinful actions 
which you might give up, and would give up, were 
a temporal inducement held out to you, I have no 
evidence of your receiving benefit from the word 
of salvation that I am sounding in your ears. There 



93 



is surely room for telling sinners more than one 
thing, in the course of the very earliest lesson that 
is laid before them. It is an exclusive deference 
to the one point, and the one principle, and the 
bringing of every thing else into a forced subordi- 
nation upon it, which has enfeebled many an at- 
tempt to turn sinners to Christ from their iniquities. 
I can surely tell a man, that unless he is walking 
in a particular line, he will not reach the object he 
is aiming at ; and I can tell him at the same time, 
that neither will he reach it, unless he have his eyes 
open, and he look upon the object. On these two 
unquestionable truths, I bid him both walk and 
look at the same time, and at the same time he can 
do both, in the same manner I may tell a man, 
that unless he give up stealing, he shall not. reach 
heaven ; and I may also tell him, that unless he 
accept, by faith, Christ as his alone Saviour, he shall 
not reach heaven. On these two truths I found two 
practical directions; and 1 must be convinced, that 
the doing of the one hinders the doing of the other, 
ere I desist from that which the first teachers of 
Christianity did before me, — proclaim Christ, and 
within the compass of the same breathing, call on 
men to do works meet for repentance. 

In the order of time, the practical instructions of 
John went before the full announcement of the 
doctrines of salvation. I do not think, however, 
that this order is authoritative upon us ; but far less 
do I think that our full possession of the doctrine 
of salvation confers any authority upon us for re* 



versing the historical process of the New Testa- 
ment. I bring all the truths which the teachers of 
these days addressed to the sinners among whom 
they laboured, to bear immediately upon you sin- 
ners now. And while I call upon you to turn from 
the evil of your ways, I also warn you of the dan- 
ger of putting away from you the offered Saviour, 
or refusing all your confidence in that name than 
which there is no other given under heaven where- 
by men can be saved. 

If by faith be meant the embracing of one doc- 
trine, then I can understand how some might be 
alarmed lest an outset so practical should depose 
faith from the precedency which belongs to it. But 
if by faith be meant a reliance on the whole testi- 
mony of Scripture, then the precedency of faith is 
not at all broken in upon. If, on the call of " Flee 
from the coming wrath," I get you to struggle it 
with your more palpable iniquities, I see in that 
very struggle the operation of a faith in the divine 
testimony about the realities of an invisible world, 
and I have reason to bless God that he has wrought 
in you what I am sure no argument and no ve- 
hemence of mine could, without the power of his 
Spirit, ever have accomplished. Those of you who 
have thus evinced one exercise of faith, 1 look upon 
as more hopeful subjects for another exercise, than 
those of you who remain trenched in obstinacy 
and unconcern. And when I tell the former, that 
nothing will get them acceptance with God, but 
the mediation of Christ offered to all who come, it 



95 



will be to them, and not to the latter, that I shall 
look for an earnest desire after the offered Saviour. 
"When I tell them that they affront God by not re- 
ceiving the record which he gives of his Son, it will 
be to them, and not to the others, that I shall look 
for a submissive and thankful acquiescence in the 
whole of his salvation; and thus passing with the 
docility of little children from one lesson of the Bi- 
ble to another ; these are the people w T ho, working 
because God so bids them, will count that a man 
is not justified by the works of the law, because 
God so tells them ; these are the people Who, not 
offended by what Christ told them at the outset, 
that he who cometh unto him must forsake all, will 
evince their willingness to forsake ail, by turning 
from their iniquities, and coming unto Christ; these 
are the people who, while they do what they may 
with their hands, will think that while their heart 
is not directed to the love of God, they have dons 
nothing; and counting it a faithful saying, that with- 
out Christ they can do nothing, ihey will take to 
him as their sanctifier as well as their Saviour, and 
having received him as the Lord their righteous- 
ness, will ever repair to him ; and keep by him as 
the Lord their strength. 

While I urge upon you the doing of every obvi- 
ously right thing, you will not conceive of me that 
I want you to rest in this doing. I trust that my 
introductory paragraphs may convince you how 
much of this doing may be gone through, and yet 
the mighty object of the obedience of the willing 



96 



'heart might be unreached and unaccomplished^ 
Not to urge the doing, lest you should rest, would 
be to deviate from scriptural example. And again, 
to urge the doing, and leave you to rest, would be 
also to deviate from scriptural example. John the 
Baptist urged the doing of many things, and his 
faithful disciples set themselves to the performance 
of what he bade them do. They entered imme- 
diately on the field of active and diligent service. 
But did they stop short ? No ; out of the very 
preaching of their master did they obtain a caution 
against resting; and the same submissive deference 
to his authority, in virtue of which they were seta 
working, led them also, along with their working 
at the things which he set them to, to look forward 
to greater things than these. He told them ex- 
pressly, that all his preaching was as nothing to the 
preaching of one who was to come after him. They 
were diligent with present things, but be assured 
that they combined with this diligence the attitude 
of looking forward to greater things. Is this the at- 
titude of men who place their repose and their 
dependence upon the performances on hand ? 
Was it not the attitude of men walking in the way 
revealed by a messenger from heaven, to the ob- 
ject which this messenger pointed out to them ? 
I call on you to commence at this moment an im- 
mediate struggle with ail sin, and an immediate 
striving after all righteousness ; but I would not be 
completing even the lesson of John, and far less 
would I be bringing forward the counsel of God 



97 



as made known to us in his subsequent revelation, 
were I to say any thing which led you to stop short 
at those visible reformations, which formed the 
great burden of John's practical addresses to his 
countrymen ; and therefore along with your doing, 
and most diligently doing all that is within your 
reach, I call on you to pray, and most fervently and 
faithfully to pray for that larger baptism of the Ho- 
ly Ghost, by which your hearts may be cleansed 
from all their corruptions, and you be enabled to 
render unto God all the purity of a spiritual obe- 
dience. 

I cannot expatiate within the limits of this short 
Address on the texts both of the Old and New Tes- 
tament, which serve to establish, that the right at- 
titude of a returning sinner is what 1 have some- 
times called in your hearing, the compound atti- 
tude of service and expectation. But I shall re- 
peat a few of these texts, that they may suggest 
what you have been in the habit of hearing from 
me upon this subject. "And Samuel spake to all 
the house of Israel saying, if ye do return unto the 
Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange 
gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare 
your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only, and 
he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philis-* 
tines. Then the children of Israel did put away 
Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only. 55 
" They will not frame their doings to turn unto the 
Lord." " Thus saith the Lord, keep ye judgment 
and do justice, for my salvation is near to come 7 

13 



93 



and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the 
man that doeth this, and the son of man that lay eth 
hold on it, that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting 
it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil." 
" Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poor 
that are cast out into thy house. When thou sees! 
the naked, cover him, and hide not thyself from 
thine own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth 
as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth 
speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before 
thee ; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward/' 
u He that hath my commandments and keepeth 
them, he it is that loveth me, and he that loveth me 
shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him ? 
and will manifest myself unto him." " For who- 
soever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall 
have more abundance ; but whosoever hath not ? 
from him shall be taken away even that he hath." 
" Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these 
least commandments, and shall teach men so, he 
shall be called the least in the kingdom of hea- 
ven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the 
same shall be called great in the kingdom of hea- 
ven." " And we are witnesses of these things ; and 
so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given 
to them that obey him." " Trust in the Lord, and 
do good." 

But danger presses on us in every direction ; and 
in the work of dividing the word of truth, many > 
and very many, are the obstacles which lie in the 
way of our doing it rightly. When a Minister gives 



99 



Iris strength to one particular lesson, it often car- 
ries in it the appearance of his neglecting all the 
rest, and throwing into the back ground other les- 
sons of equal importance. It might require the 
ministrations of many years to do away this ap- 
pearance. Sure I am, that I despair of doing it 
away within the limits of this short Address to any 
but yourselves. You know all that I have urged 
upon the ground of your acceptance with God; 
upon the freeness of that offer which is by Christ 
Jesus ; upon the honest invitations which every 
where abound in the Gospel, that all who will may 
take hold of it; upon the necessity of being found 
by God, not in your own righteousness, but in the 
righteousness which is of Christ ; upon the help- 
lessness of man, and how all the strugglings of his 
own unaided strength can never carry him to the 
length of a spiritual obedience ; upon the darkness 
and enmity of his mind about the things of God, 
and how this can never be dissolved, till he w ho by 
nature stands afar off is brought near by the blood 
of the atonement, and he receives that repentance 
and that remission of sins, which Christ is exalted 
a Prince and a Saviour to dispense to all who be- 
lieve in him. These are offers and doctrines which 
might be addressed, and ought to be addressed, 
immediately to all. But the call 1 have been urging 
upon you through the whole of this pamphlet, of 
"Cease ye from your manifest transgressions,' 5 
should be addressed alonsc with them. Now here 
lies the difficulty with many a sincere lover of the 



100 



truth as it is in Jesus. He feels a backwardness in 
urging this call, lest it should somehow or other 
impair the freeness of the offer, or encroach upon 
the singleness of that which is stated to be our 
alone meritorious ground of acceptance before God. 
In reply to this, let it be w ell observed, that though 
the offer be at all times free, it is not at all times 
listened to ; and though the only ground of accept- 
ance be that righteousness of Christ which is unto 
all them and upon all them that believe, yet some 
are in likelier circumstances for being brought to this 
belief than others. There is one class of hearers 
who are in a greater state of readiness for being im- 
pressed by the Gospel than another, — and I fear 
that all the use has not been made of this principle 
which Scripture and experience warrant us to do. 
Every attempt to work man into a readiness for 
receiving the offer has been discouraged, as if it 
carried in it a reflection against the freeness of the 
offer itself. The obedient disciples of John were 
more prepared for the doctrines of grace, than the 
careless hearers of this prophet ; but their obedi- 
ence did not confer any claim of merit upon them, 
it only made them more disposed to receive the 
good tidings of that salvation which was altogether 
of grace. A despiser of ordinancesis put into a like- 
lier situation for receiving the free offer of the Gos- 
pel, by being prevailed upon to attend a church 
where this offer is urged upon his acceptance. His 
attendance does not impair the freeness of the of- 
fer. Yet where is the man so warped by a mislead- 



101 



ing speculation, as to deny that the doing of this 
previous to his union with Christ, and preparatory 
to that union, may be the very mean of the free 
offer being received. Again, it is the lesson both 
of experience and of the Bible, that the young are 
likelier subjects for religious intruction than the 
old. The free offer may and ought to be address- 
en to both these classes ; but generally speaking, 
it is in point of fact more productive of good when 
addressed to the first class than the second. And we 
do not say that youth confers any meritorious title 
to salvation, nor do we make any reflection on the 
freeness of the offer, when we urge it upon the 
young, lest they should get old, and it have less 
chance of being laid before them with acceptance. 
We make no reflection upon the offer as to its cha- 
racter of freeness, but we proceed upon the obvi- 
ous fact, that, free as it is, it is not so readily listen- 
ed to or laid hold of by the second class of hearers 
as by the first. And, lastly, when addressing sin- 
ners now, all of them might and ought to be plied 
with the free offer of salvation at the very outset. 
But if it be true, that those of them who wilfully 
persist in those misdoings, which they could give 
up on the inducement of a temporal reward, will 
not, in point of fact, be so impressed by the offer, 
or be so disposed to accept of it, as those who (on 
the call of — "Flee from the coming wrath;" and 
on being told, that unless they repent they shall 
perish ; and on being made to know, what our Sa- 
viour made inquirers know at the very starting point 



102 



of (heir progress as his disciples, that he who fol- 
loweth after him must forsake all,) have begun to 
break off their sins, and to put the evil of their do- 
ings away from them : then we are not stripping the 
offer of its attribute of perfect freeness, but we are 
only doing what God in his wisdom did two thou- 
sand years ago; we are, under Him, preparing souls 
for the reception of this offer, when, along with the 
business of proposing it, which we cannot do too 
early, we bring the urgency of an immediate call 
to bear on the children of iniquity, that they should 
cease to do evil, and learn to do well. 

The publicans and harlots entered into the king- 
dom of God before the Pharisees, and yet the lat- 
ter were free from the outward transgressions of the 
former. Now, the fear which restrains many from 
lifting the immediate call of, — " Cease ye from 
your transgressions," is, lest it should put those who 
obey the call into the state of Pharisees ; and there 
is a secret, though not avowed, impression in their 
minds, that it were better for their hearers to remain 
in the state of publicans and harlots, and in this 
state to have the offer of Christ and all his benefits 
set before them. But mark well, that it was not 
the publicans and harlots who persisted in their ini- 
quities, but they who counted John to be a pro- 
phet, and in obedience to his call were putting 
their iniquities away from them, who had the ad- 
vantage of the Pharisees. None will surely say, 
that those of them who continued as they were, 
were put into a state of preparation for the Saviour 



103 



by the preaching cf John. Some will be afraid to 
say, that those of them who gave up their iniquities 
at the bidding of John were put into a state of pre- 
paration, lest it should encourage a pharisaical con- 
fidence in our own doings. But mark the distinc- 
tion between these and the Pharisees : The Phari- 
sees might be as free as the reforming publicans 
and harlots, of those visible transgressions which 
characterized them; but on this they rested their 
confidence, and put the offered Saviour away from 
them. The publicans and harlots, so far from rest- 
ing their confidence on the degree of reformation 
which they had accomplished, were prompted to 
this reformation by the hope of the coming Sa- 
viour. They connected with all their doings the ex- 
pectation of greater things. They waited for the 
kingdom of God that was at hand; and the preach- 
ing of John, under the influence of w T hich they had 
put away from them many of their misdeeds, could 
never lead them to stop short at this degree of 
amendment, when the very same John told them 
of one who was to come after him, in comparison 
of whom he and all his sermons were as nothing. 
The Saviour did come, and he said of those publi- 
cans and harlots who believed and repented at the 
preaching of John, that they entered the kingdom 
of heaven before the Pharisees. They had not 
earned that kingdom by their doings, but they 
were in a fitter and readier state for receiving the 
tidings of it. The gospel came to them on the 
footing of a free and unmerited offer ; and on this 



104 



footing it should be proposed to all. But it is not 
on this footing that it will be accepted by all. Not 
by men who, free from many glaring and visible 
iniquities, rest on the decency of their own charac- 
ter ; — not by men who, deformed by these iniqui- 
ties, still wilfully and obstinately persist in them ; 
but by men who, earnest in their inquiries after 
salvation, and who, made to know, as they ought 
to be at the very outset of their inquiries, that it is 
a salvation from sin as well as from punishment, 
have given up the practice of their outward ini- 
quities, as the first fruit and evidence of their ear- 
nestness. 

Let me, therefore, in addition to the lesson I 
have already urged upon you. warn you against a 
pharisaical confidence in your own doings. While, 
on the one hand, I tell you that none are truly seek- 
ing who have not begun to do ; I, on the other hand, 
tell you, that none have truly found who have not 
taken up with Christ as the end of the law for 
righteousness. Let Jesus Christ, the same to-day, 
yesterday, and for ever, be the end of your conver- 
sation. Never take rest till you have found it in 
him. You never will have a well-grounded com- 
fort in your intercourse with God, till you have 
learned the way of going to the throne of his grace 
in fellowship with Christ as your appointed Media- 
tor ; — you never will rejoice in hope of the coming 
glory, till your peace be made with God through 
Jesus Christ our Lord ; — you never will be sure of 
pardon, till you rest in the forgiveness of your sins 



lOo 



as coming to you through the redemption which is 
in his blood. And what is more, addressing you as 
people who have received a practical impulse to 
the obedience of the commandments, never forget, 
that, while the reformation of your first and earliest 
stages in the Christian life went no farther than to 
the amendment of your more obvious and visible 
deficiencies, this reformation, to be completed, 
must bring the soul and spirit, as w 7 eil as the body, 
under a subserviency to the glory of God*, and it 
never can be completed but by the shedding abroad 
of that Spirit which is daily poured on the daily 
prayers of believers: and I call upon you always to 
look up to God through the channel of Christ's ap- 
pointed mediatorship, that you may receive through 
this same channel a constant and ever increasing 
supply of the washing of regeneration and renew- 
ing of the Holy Ghost. 

1 call upon you to be up and doing; but I call 
upon you with the very same breath, not to rest sa- 
tisfied with any dark, or doubtful, or confused no- 
tions about your way of acceptance with God; and 
let it be your earnest and never-ceasing object to 
be found in that way. While you have the com- 
mandments and keep them, look at the same time 
for the promised manifestations. To be indifferent 
whether you have a clear understanding of the righ- 
teousness of Christ, is the same as thinking it not 
worth your while to inquire into that which God 
thought it worth his while to give up his Son unto 
the death that he might accomplish. It is to af- 

14 



1UG 

front God, by letting him speak while you refuse 
to listen or attend to him. Have a care, lest it be 
an insulting sentiment on your part, as to the worth 
of your polluted services, and that, sinful as they 
are, and defective as they are, they are good enough 
for God. Lean not on such a bruised reed ; but 
let Christ, in all the perfection of that righteous- 
ness, which is unto all them and upon all them that 
believe, be the alone rock of your confidence. Your 
feet will never get on a sure place till they be es- 
tablished on that foundation than which there is 
no other; and to delay a single moment in your 
attempts to reach it, and to find rest upon it, after 
it is so broadly announced to you, is to incur the 
aggravated guilt of those who neglect the great 
salv ation, and who make God a liar, by suspending 
their belief of that record which he hath given of 
bis Son, — "And this is the record that God hath 
given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." 

Again 1 call upon you to be up and doing : and 
I call upon you to accept of Christ as your alone 
Saviour: but I call upon you, at the same time, to 
look to the whole extent of his salvation. " You 
hath he quickened, having forgiven you all tres- 
passes. 5 ' There is the forgiveness of all that has 
been dead, and sieful, and alienated within you ; but 
there is also a quickening, and a reforming, and a 
putting within you a near and a lively sense of 
God, so as that you may henceforth serve him with 
new ness of heart, and walk before him in all new- 
ness of life and, of conversation* Your hearts will 



107 

be enlarged, so as that you may run the way of all 
the commandments. O how it puts to flight all 
Pharisaical confidence in the present exercises of 
obedience, when one casts an enlightened eye 
over the whole extent of the Christian race, and 
thinks of the mighty extent of those attainments 
which were exemplified by the disciples of the 
New Testament! The service which 1 now yield, 
and is perhaps offered up in the spirit of bondage, 
must be offered up in the spirit of adoption. It 
must be the obedience of a child, who yields the 
willing homage of his affections to his reconciled 
father. It must be the obedience of the heart ; and 
O how far is a slavish performance of the bidden 
task, from the consent of the inner man to the law 
of that God whom he delights to honour ! This 
love to him, and delight in him, occupy the fore- 
most place in the list of the bidden requirements. 
If I love the creature more than the Creator, I tram- 
ple on the authority of the first and greatest of the 
commandments; and what an imposing exhibition 
of sobriety, and justice, and almsgiving, and reli- 
gious decency, may be presented in the character 
and doings of him whose conversation is not in 
heaven, who minds earthly things, who loves his 
wealth more than God, who likes his ease and 
comfort on this side of time more than all his pros- 
pects on the other side of it, and who, therefore, 
though he may never have looked upon himself to 
be any thing else than a fair Christian, is looked 
upon by every spiritual being as a rebel to his God, 



108 



with the principle of rebellion firmly seated in his 
most vital part, even in his heart turned in-cold- 
ness and alienation away from him. 

But if God be looked upon by you as a Father 
with whom you are reconciled through the blood 
of sprinkling, it will not be so with you. Now, this 
is what he calls you to do. He gives you a warrant 
to choose him as your God. He offers himself 
to your acceptance, and beseeches all to whom 
the word of salvation is sent, to be reconciled to 
Him. It is indeed a wonderful change in the state 
of a heart, when, giving up its coldness and indif- 
ference to God, (and I call upon every careless and 
unawakened man to tell me, upon his honesty, 
whether this be not the actual state of his heart,) 
it surrenders itself to Him with the warm and the 
willing tribute of all its affections. Now, there is 
not one power, within the compass of nature, that 
can bring about this change. It does not lie with 
man to give up the radical iniquity of an alienated 
heart; the Ethiopian may as soon change his skin, 
and the leopard his spots. But what cannot be done 
by him is done to him, when he accepts of the 
Gospel. The promises of Christ are abundantly 
performed upon all who trust in him. Through 
him is the dispensation of forgiveness, and with 
him is the dispensation of the all-powerful and all- 
subduing Spirit. While, then, with the very first 
mentionvof his name, I call on you to cease your 
hand from doing evil, surely there is nothing in the 
call that can lead you to stop at any one point of 



109 



obedience, when I, at the same time, tell you of 
the mighty change that must be accomplished, ere 
you are meet for the inheritance of the saints. You 
must be made the workmanship of God ; you must 
be born again; you must be made to feel your de- 
pendence on the power of the renewing Spirit ; 
and that power must come down upon you, and 
keep by you, and by his ever-needed supplies must 
form the habitual answer to your habitual and be- 
lieving prayers. 

I have now got upon ground on which many will 
refuse to go along with me. I can get their testi- 
mony to the spectacle of a reforming people, put- 
ting the visible iniquities of stealing, and lying, 
and evil speaking, and drunkenness, away from 
them; but from the moment we come to the only 
principle which confers any value on these visible 
expressions, even the willing homage of the heart 
to God, and to his law in all its spirituality and ex- 
tent; and from the moment that we come to the 
only expedient by w r hich such a principle can ever 
obtain an establishment within us, (and we chal- 
lenge them to attempt the establishment of this 
principle in any other way,) even the operation of 
that spirit which is given to those who accept of 
Christ as he is laid before us in the Gospel; then, 
and at that moment, are w 7 e looked upon as having 
entered within the borders of fanaticism ; and, while 
they lavish their superficial admiration on the flow- 
ers of virtue, do they refuse the patience of their 



110 



attention to the root from which they spring, or to 
the nourishment which maintains them. 

And here I cannot but record the effect of an ac- 
tual though undesigned experiment, which I pro- 
secuted for upwards of twelve years among you* 
For the greater part of that time, I could expatiate 
on the meanness of dishonesty, on the villany of 
falsehood, on the despicable arts of calumny, — in 
a word, upon all those deformities of character, 
which awaken the natural indignation of the human 
lieart against the pests and the disturbers of human 
society. Now could I, upon the strength of these 
warm expostulations, have got the thief to give up 
his stealing, and the evil speaker his censorious- 
ness, and the liar his deviations from truth, I should 
have felt all the repose of one who had gotten his 
ultimate object. It never occurred to me that all 
this might have been done, and yet every soul of 
every hearer have remained in full alienation from 
God ; and that even could I have established in 
the bosom of one who stole, such a principle of 
abhorrence at the meanness of dishonesty, that he 
was prevailed upon to steal no more, he might still 
have retained a heart as completely unturned to 
God, and as totally unpossessed by a principle of 
love to Him, as before. In a word, though I might 
have made him a more upright and honourable 
man, I might have left him as destitute of the es- 
sence of religious principle as ever. But the inte- 
resting fact is, that during the whole of that period 
in which I made no attempt against the natural 



Ill 



enmity of the mind to God, while I was inattentive 
to the way in which this enmity is dissolved, even 
by the free offer on the one hand, and the believing 
acceptance on the other, of the gospel salvation ; 
while Christ, through whose blood the sinner, who 
by nature stands afar off, is brought near to the hea- 
venly Lawgiver whom he has offended, was scarce- 
ly ever spoken of, or spoken of in such a way, as 
stripped him of all the importance of his character 
and his offices, even at this time I certainly did 
press the reformations of honour, and truth, and 
integrity among my people ; but I never once heard 
of any such reformations having been effected 
amongst them. If there was any thing at all brought 
about in this way, it was more than ever I got any 
account of. I am not sensible, that all the vehe- 
mence with which I urged the virtues and the pro- 
prieties of social life, had the weight of a feather 
on the moral habits of my parishioners. And it 
was not till I got impressed by the utter alienation 
of the heart in all its desires and affections from 
God ; it was not till reconciliation to Him became 
the distinct and the prominent object of my minis- 
terial exertions ; it was not till I took the scriptural 
-way of laying the method of reconciliation before 
them ; it was not till the free offer of forgiveness 
through the blood of Christ was urged upon their 
acceptance, and the Holy Spirit given through the 
channel of Christ's mediatorshipto all who ask him, 
was set before them as the unceasing object of their 
dependance and their prayers ; it was not, in one 



112 



word, till the contemplations of my people were 
turned to these great and essential elements in the 
business of a soul providing for its interest with 
God, and the concerns of its eternity, that I ever 
heard of any of those subordinate reformations 
which I aforetime made the earnest and the zealous, 
but I am afraid at the same time, the ultimate ob- 
ject of my earlier ministrations. Ye servants, whose 
scrupulous fidelity has now attracted the notice, 
and drawn forth in my hearing a delightful testi- 
mony from your masters, what mischief you would 
have done, had your zeal for doctrines and sacra- 
ments been accompanied by the sloth and the re- 
missness, and what, in the prevailing tone of moral 
relaxation, is counted the allowable purloining of 
your earlier days! But a sense of your heavenly 
Master's eye has brought another influence to bear 
upon you ; and while you are thus striving to adorn 
the doctrine of God your Saviour in all things, you 
may, poor as you are, reclaim the great ones of the 
land to the acknowledgment of the faith. You 
have at least taught me, that to preach Christ is 
the only effective way of preaching morality in all 
its branches ; and out of your humble cottages have 
I gathered a lesson, which I pray God I may be 
enabled to carry with all its simplicity into a wider 
theatre, and to bring with all the power of its sub- 
duing efficacy upon the vices of a more crowded 
population. 

And here it gives me pleasure to observe, that, 
earnest as I have been for a plain and practical 



113 



outset, the very first obedience of John's disciples 
was connected with a belief in the announcement 
of a common Saviour. This principle was present 
with them, and had its influence on the earliest 
movements of their repentance. Faith in Christ 
had at that time but an obscure dawning: in their 
minds; but they did not wait for its full and its 
finished splendour, till they should begin the work 
of keeping the commandments. To thisinfant faith 
there corresponded a certain degree of obedience, 
and this obedience grew more enlightened, more 
spiritual, more allied with the purity of the heart, 
and the movements of the inner man, just as faith 
obtained its brighter and larger accessions in the 
course of the subsequent revelations. The disci- 
ple of John keeping himself free from extortion and 
adultery, was a very different man from the Pha- 
risee, who was neither an extortioner nor an adul- 
terer. The mind of the Pharisee rested on his pre- 
sent performances ; the mind of the disciple was 
filled with the expectation of a higher Teacher, and 
he looked forward to him, and was in the attitude 
of readiness to listen, and believe, and obey. Many 
of them were transferred from the forerunner to the 
Saviour, and they companied with him during his 
abode in the world, and were found with one ac- 
cord in one place on the day of Pentecost, and 
shared in the influences of that Comforter, whom 
Christ promised to send down upon his disciples 
on earth, from the place to which he had ascended 
in heaven; and thus it is that the same men who 

15 



114 



started with the preaching of John at the work of 
putting their obvious and palpable transgressions 
away from them, were met afterwards at the dis- 
tance of years Jiving the life of faith in Christ, and 
growing in meetness for a spiritual inheritance, by 
growing in all the graces and accomplishments of 
a spiritual obedience. There was a faith in Christ, 
which presided over the very first steps of their 
practical career ; but it is worthy of being remarked, 
that they did not wait in indolence till this faith 
should receive its further augmentations. Upon this 
faith, humble as it was at its commencement, their 
Teacher exacted a corresponding obedience, and 
this obedience, so far from being suspended till what 
was lacking in their faith should be perfected, was the 
very path which conducted them to larger manifes- 
tations. Now is not faith a growing principle at this 
hour ? Is not the faith of an insipient Christian differ- 
ent in its strength, and in the largeness of its con- 
templations, from the faith of hjm who, by reason of 
use, has had his senses well exercised to discern both 
the good and the evil? I am willing to concede it ? 
for it accords with all my experience on the sub- 
ject, that some anticipation, however faint, of the 
benefit to be derived from an offered Saviour; 
some apprehension, however indistinct, of the mer- 
cy of God in Christ Jesus; some hope, inspired by 
the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, and which 
nothing but the preaching of that Gospel in all its 
peculiarity will ever awaken in the mind, — that 
these are the principles which preside over the very 



115 



first movements of a sinner, casting; away from him 
his transgressions, and returning unio God. But let 
us not throw any impediment in the way of these 
first movements. Let us have a practical outset 
Let us not be afraid of giving an immediate cha- 
racter of exertion to the very infancy of a Chris- 
tian's career. To wait in slavish adherence to sys- 
tem, till the principle of faith be deposited with all 
the tenacity of a settled assurance in the mind, or 
the brilliancy of a finished light be thrown around 
it, would be to act in the face of scriptural examr 
pie. Let the gospel be preached in all its freeness 
at the very outset ; but let us never forget, that to 
every varying degree of faith in the mind of the 
hearer there goes an obedience along with it; that 
to forsake the evil of his ways can never be pressed 
too early upon his observance ; that this, and every 
subsequent degree of obedience, is the prescribed 
path to clearer manifestations;* and that, to at- 
tempt the establishment of a perfect faith by the 
single work of expounding the truth, is to strike out 
a spark of our own kindling — it is to do the thing 
in our own way — it is to throw aside the use of 
scriptural expedients, and to substitute the mere 
possession of a dogma, for that principle which ; 
growing progressively within us, animates and sus- 
tains the whole course of a humble, and diligent ; 
and assiduous, and pains-taking Christian. 

Whence the fact, that the deriders and the ene- 
mies of evangelical truth set themselves forward 

* John, xiv. 21. ; Acts, v. 32. 



116 

as the exclusive advocates of morality ? It is be- 
cause many of its friends have not ventured to show 
so bold and so immediate a front on this subject as 
they ought to have done. They are positively 
afraid of placing morality on the fore ground of 
their speculations. They do not like it to be so pro- 
minently brought forward at the commencement 
of their instructions. They have it, ay, and in a 
purer and holier form than its more ostentatious 
advocates ; but they have thrown a doctrinal bar- 
rier around it, which hides it from the general ob- 
servation. Would it not be better to drag it from 
this concealment — to bring it out to more imme- 
diate view — -to place it in large and visible charac- 
ters on the very threshold of our subject; and if our 
Saviour told his countrymen, at the very outset of 
their discipleship, that they who follow after him 
must forsake all, is there any thing to prevent us 
from battling it, at the very outset of our minis- 
trations, with all that is glaringly and obviously 
wrong? Much should be done to chase away the 
very general delusion which exists among the peo- 
ple of this country, that the preachers of faith are 
not the preachers of morality. If there be any 
thing in the arrangements of a favourite system 
which are at ail calculated to foster this delusion, 
these arrangements should just be broke in upon. 
Obedience should be written upon every signal; 
and departure from all iniquity, should be made to 
float, in a bright and legible inscription, upon all 
our standards. 



117 



I call on you, my brethren, to abound in those 
good deeds, by which, if done in the body, Christ 
will be magnified in your bodies. I call on you for 
a prompt vindication of the truth as it is in Jesus, 
by your example and your lives. Let me hear of 
your being the most equitable masters, and the 
most faithful servants, and the most upright mem- 
bers of society, and the most watchful parents, and 
the most dutiful children. Never forget, that the 
object of the Saviour is to redeem you from all 
iniquity, and that every act of wilful indulgence, 
in any one species of iniquity, is a refusal to go 
along with him. Do maintain to the eye of by- 
standers the conspicuous front of a reforming, and 
conscientious, and ever-doing people. Meet the 
charge of those who are strangers to the power of 
the truth, by the noblest of all refutations — by the 
graces and accomplishments of a life given in faith- 
ful and entire dedication to the will of the Saviour. 
Let the remembrance of what he gave for you, 
ever stir you up to the sense of what you should 
give him back again ; and while others talk of 
good works, in such a way as to depose Christ 
from his preeminence, do you perform these good 
works through Christ, by the power of his grace 
working in you mightily. 

And think not that you have attained, or are al- 
ready perfect. Have your eye ever directed to the 
perfect righteousness of Christ, as the only ground 
of your acceptance with God, and as the only ex- 
ample you should never cease to aspire after. Rest 



118 



not in any one measure of attainment. Think not 
that you should stop short till you are righteous, 
even as he is glorious. Take unto you the whole 
armour of God, that you may be fitted for the con- 
test, and prove that you are indeed born again by 
the anointing which you have received, being an 
anointing which remaineth. May the very God of 
peace sanctify you wholly. May he shed abroad 
his love in your hearts. And may the Spirit which 
I call on you to pray for, in the faith of Him who 
is entrusted with the dispensation of it, impel you 
to all diligence, that you may be found of Him, at 
his coming, without spot, and blameless. 

I shall conclude this very hurried and imperfect 
Address, with the last words of my last sermon to 
you. 

" It is not enough that you receive Christ for the 
single object of forgiveness, or as a priest who 
has wrought out an atonement for you ; for Christ 
offers himself in more capacities than this one, and 
you do not receive him truly, unless you receive 
him just as he offers himself. Again, it is not enough 
that you receive Christ only as a priest and a pro- 
phet ; for all that he teaches will be to you a dead 
letter, unless you are qualified to understand and 
to obey it ; and if you think that you are qualified 
by nature, you, in fact, refuse his teaching, at the 
very time that you profess him to be your teacher, 
for he says, 6 without me ye can do nothing." You 
must receive him for strength, as well as for for- 



119 



giveness and direction, or, in other words, you 
must submit to him as your King, not merely to 
rule over you by his law, but to rule in you by 
his Spirit. You must live in constant depend- 
ance on the influences of his grace, and if you 
do so, you never will stop short at any one point 
of obedience; but, knowing that the grace of God 
is all-powerful, you will suffer no difficulties to stop 
your progress; you will suffer no paltry limit of 
what unaided human nature can do, to bound your 
ambition after the glories of a purer and a better 
character than any earthly principle can accom- 
plish ; you will enter a career, of which you at this 
moment see not the end ; you will try an ascent, 
of which the lofty eminence is hid in the darkness 
of futurity; the chilling sentiment, that no higher 
obedience is expected of me than what I can yield, 
will have no influence upon you, for the mighty 
stretch of attainment that you look forward to, is 
not what I can do, but what Christ can do in me ; 
and, with the all-subduing instrument of his grace 
to help you through every difficulty, and to carry 
you in triumph over every opposition, you will press 
forward conquering and to conquer ; and, while the 
world knoweth not the power those great and ani- 
mating hopes which sustain you, you will be mak- 
ing daily progress in a field of discipline and ac- 
quirement which they have never entered; and in 
patience and forgiveness, and gentleness and cha- 
rity, and the love of God and the love of your neigh- 
bour, which is like unto the love of God, you will 



120 



prove that a work of grace is going on in your hearts ? 
even that work by which the image you lost at the 
fall is repaired and brought back again, the empire 
of sin within you is overthrown, the subjection of 
your hearts to what is visible and earthly is ex- 
changed for the power of the unseen world over its 
every affection, and you be filled with such a faith, 
and such a love, and such a superiority to perish- 
able things, as will shed a glory over the whole of 
your daily walk, and give to every one of your do- 
ings the high character of a candidate for eternity, 
" Christ is offered to all of you for forgiveness. 
The man who takes him for this single object must 
be looking at him with an eye half shut upon the 
revelation he makes of himself. Look at him with 
an open and a steadfast eye, and then I will call 
you a true believer ; and sure I am, that if you do 
so, you cannot avoid seeing him in the earnestness 
of his desire that you should give up all sin, and 
enter from this moment into all obedience. True, 
and most true, my brethren, that faith will save you ; 
but it must be a whole faith in a whole Bible, 
True, and most true, that they who keep the com- 
mandments of Jesus shall enter into life ; but you 
are not to shrink from any one of these command- 
ments, or to say because they are so much above 
the power of humanity, that you must give up the 
task of attempting them. True, and most true, that 
he who trusteth to his obedience as a saviour, is 
shifting his confidence from the alone foundation 
it can rest upon* Christ is your Saviour; and 



121 



when I call upon you to rejoice in that reconcilia- 
tion which is through him, I call upon you not to 
leave him for a single moment, when you engage 
in the work of doing those things which if left un- 
done, will exclude us from the kingdom of heaven. 
Take him along with you into all your services. 
Let the sentiment ever be upon you, that what 1 
am now doing I may do in my own strejMjtfi to the 
satisfaction of man, but 1 must have tfl^Bwer of 
Christ resting upon the performance, ii^Kvish to 
do it in the way that is acceptable to God. Let 
this be your habitual sentiment, and then the sup- 
posed opposition between faith and works vanishes 
into nothing. The life of a believer is made up 
of good works; and faith is the animating and the 
power- working principle of every one of them. The 
spirit of Christ actuates and sustains the whole 
course of your obedience. You walk not away from 
him,but in the language of the text, you 6 walk in him,' 
(Col. ii. 6.) and as there is not one of your doings 
in which he does not feel a concern, and prescribe 
a duty for you, so there is not one of them in which 
his grace is not in readiness to put the right prin- 
ciple into your heart, and to bring it out into your 
conduct, and to make your walk accord with your 
profession, so as to let the world see upon you with- 
out, the power and the efficacy of the sentiment 
within; and thus, while Christ has the whole merit 
of your forgiveness, he has the whole merit of your 
sanctification also, and the humble and deeply- 
felt consciousness of 6 nevertheless not me ? but the 

16 



122 



grace of God that is in me,' restores to Jesus Christ 
all the credit and ail the glory which belong to 
him, by making him your only, and your perfect, 
and your entire, and your altogether Saviour. 

" Choose hinji, then, my brethren, choose him 
as the Captain of your salvation. Let him enter 
into your hearts by faith, and let him dwell conti- 
nuallJ^Mfre. Cultivate a daily intercourse and a 
growM Kjuaintance with him. O, you are in 
safe ~^^puiy ? indeed, when your fellowship is 
with him ! The shield of his protecting mediator- 
ship is ever between you and the justice of God ; 
and out of his fulness there goeth a constant stream, 
to nourish, and to animate, and to strengthen every 
believer. Why should the shifting of human in- 
struments so oppress and so discourage you, when 
he is your willing friend ; when he is ever present, 
and is at all times in readiness ; when he, the same 
to-day, yesterday, and for ever, is to be met with 
in every place 5 and while his disciples here, giving 
way to the power of sight, are sorrowful, and in 
great heaviness, because they are to move at a 
distance from one another, he, my brethren, he 
has his eye upon all neighbourhoods and all coun- 
tries, and will at length gather his disciples into one 
eternal family? With such a Master, let us quit 
ourselves like men. With the magnificence of 
eternity before us, let time, with all its fluctuations, 
dwindle into its own littleness. If God is pleased 
to spare me, I trust I shall often meet with you in 
person, even on this side of the grave; but if not 



123 

iet often meet in prayer at the mercy-seat of 
God. While we occupy different places on earth, 
let our mutual intercessions for each other go to 
one place in heaven. Let the Saviour put our sup- 
plications into one censer; and be assured, my 
brethren, that after the dear and the much-loved 
scenery of this peaceful vale has disappeared from 
my eye, the people who live in it shall retain a 
warm and an ever-during place in my memory; — 
and this mortal body must be stretched on the bed 
of death, ere the heart which now animates it can 
resign its exercise of longing after you, and pray- 
ing for you, that you may so receive Christ Jesus, 
and so walk in him, and so hold fast the things you 
have gotten, and so prove that the labour I have 
had amongst you has not been in vain ; that when 
the sound of the last trumpet awakens us, these 
eyes, which are now bathed in tears, may open 
upon a scene of eternal blessedness, and we, my 
brethren, whom the providence of God has with- 
drawn for a little while from one another, may on 
that day be found side by side at the right hand of 
the everlasting throne." 



APPENDIX, 



' SINCE the present edition of this work was putting to press, I have seen a review of it 
by the Christian Instructor, and the following are the immediate observations which the 
perusal of this review has suggested. 

I meant no attack on any body of clergy, and I have made no attack upon them. The 
people whom I addressed were the main object on which my attention rested; and any 
thing I have said in the style of animadversion, was chiefly, if not exclusively, with a re- 
ference to that perverseness which I think I have witnessed in the conceptions and habits 
of private Christians. 

I have alluded, no doubt, to a method of treatment on the part of some of the teachers 
of Christianity, and which I believa to be both inefficient and unscriptural. But have I at 
all asserted the extent to which this method prevails ? Have I ventured to fasten an im- 
putation upon any marked or general body of Christian ministers ? It was no object of 
mine to set forth or to signalize my own peculiarity in this matter 5 and if I l'ightly under- 
stand who the men are whom the reviewer has in his eye when he speaks of the evange- 
lical clergy, then does he represent me as dealing out my censures against those whom I 
honestly believe to be the instrumental cause of nearly all the vital and substantial Chris- 
tianity in the land. 

Again, is it not possible for a man to have an awakened and tender sense of the sinful- 
ness of one sin, and to have a very slender and inadequate sense of the sinfulness of another ? 
Might not the first circumstance beget in his mind an honest and a general desire to be de- 
livered from sin and might not the second circumstance account for the fact, that with 
this mourning for sin in the gross, he should put forth Ms hand without scruple to the com- 
mission of what is actually sinful ? I do not know a more familiar exhibition of this, than 
that of a man who would be visited with remorse were he to walk in the fields on a Sab- 
bath day at the time of divine service, and the veiy same man indulging without remorse 
his propensity to throw ridicule or discredit on an absent character. His actual remorse 
on the commission of all that he feels to be sinful, might lead a man to mourn over sin in 
the general ; but surely this general direction of his can have no such necessary influence, 
as the reviewer contends for, in the way of leading him to renounce what he does not feel 
to be sinful. But this is what he should be made to feel : and it may Vie done in two ways, 
—either in the didactic way, by a formal announcement that the deed in question is con- 
trary to the law of God*, or in the imperative way, by bidding him cease from the doing 
of it, — a way no less effective and scriptural than the former, and brought to bear in the 
New Testament upon men at the earliest conceivable stage of their progress from sin unto 
righteousness. 

I share most cordially in opinion with the reviewer, that he might extend his observa- 
tions greatly beyond the length of the original pamphlet, were he to say all that might be 
said on the topics brought forward in it. I believe that it would require the compass of an 
extended volume to meet every objection, and to turn the argument in every possible way. 
I did not anticipate all the notice that has been taken of this performance, and am fearful 
lest it should defeat the intended effect on the hearts of a plain people. With this feeling 
I close the discussion for the present; and my desire is, that in all I may afterwards say 
upon this subject, I may be preserved from that tone of controversy, which I feel to be 
hurtful to the practical influence of every truth it accompanies ; and which, I fear, may 
have in so far infected my former communications, as to make it more fitted to arouse the 
speculative tendencies of the mind, and provoke to an intellectual warfare, than to tell ok 
the conscience and on the doings of an earnest inquirer. 

T. G. 

\ Glasgow, December, 181-5, 




7 




+ c 



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r ... 





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77. • ^ 



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